Covid-19 vaccination ‘green corridors’ remain closed in parts of Bulgaria

In spite of an order to re-open “green corridors” in Bulgaria for all comers wanting vaccinations against Covid-19, on March 1 they remained closed in parts of the country.

On February 28, national vaccination headquarters chief Krassimir Gigov sent instructions to the Bulgarian Medical Association, National Association of General Practitioners and all regional health inspectorates that where there were not enough applicants from the first four phases of the vaccination plan, people who did not fall into the target groups should also be immunised.

A previous decision by Bulgaria’s Cabinet allows the opening of “green corridors” on Saturdays, Sundays and weekday afternoons.

Reports by Bulgarian National Radio on March 1 said that “green corridors” were not open in the districts of Plovdiv, Veliko Turnovo and Yambol.

In Veliko Turnovo, the regional health inspectorate said that “green corridors” would remain closed until March 7, for a lack of sufficient vaccines to open them, while immunisation of people in the first four categories of the national vaccination plan would continue.

The deputy head of the regional health inspectorate in Plovdiv, Dr Argir Argirov, told Radio Plovdiv that this week there would be no “green corridors” in the city and throughout the district.

Argirov said that 4700 doses of vaccines against Covid-19 had been received at the regional health inspectorate on Sunday. Twenty doses each are being made available to GPs to vaccinate patients who have registered to be immunised.

He said that priority was being given to GPs in remote areas of the Plovdiv district, where GPs serve several villages.

Argirov said that there were still teachers who had registered who were waiting to immunised, and this should be completed by the end of the week.

There were several inaccuracies in the lists of election officials to be immunised, and this was complicating matters, he said.

In Sofia, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television reported large queues of people wanting to be vaccinated.

There was huge interest in the “green corridors” at Pirogov emergency hospital, where people waited for hours, the report said. There also were queues in front of the vaccination points at Alexandrovska Hospital and the Military Medical Academy.

The vaccines at the vaccination point at the District Hospital ran out on Sunday, the report said.

According to the BNT report, GPs in Sofia each received an average of 30 doses.

At the hospitals, there were many elderly people queueing because their GPs did not have enough vaccines to administer.

On the morning of March 1, Bulgaria received its 16th delivery of vaccines against Covid-19, a total of 21 060 doses of BioNTech-Pfizer, the country’s ninth consignment of vaccines from that manufacturer.

March 1 also saw restaurants in Bulgaria allowed to re-open, among other easing of anti-epidemic measures.

Going by media reports, trade at restaurants and coffee shops across Bulgaria was mixed, with some places – including central Sofia and the city of Blagoevgrad – seeing an influx of customers from early morning, while elsewhere, for instance Varna, not many people headed to the tables.

Health Minister Kostadin Angelov’s order allows restaurants to be open from 6am to 11pm, with no more than half of their capacity occupied, and no more than six people at a table. Restaurant employees must wear protective masks.

The head of the Association of Restaurants in Bulgaria, Richard Alibegov, told BNT that all necessary anti-epidemic measures had been taken.

He said that a quarter of restaurants would not re-open because they had gone out of business during the three-month closure.

Alibegov said that even after the re-opening, there would probably be more bankruptcies. Inter-company debt and debts to the National Revenue Agency were high, and from March 1, restaurants faced paying various expenses, he said.

Bulgaria’s restaurant industry had a staff shortage because many employees had switched to jobs in other sectors, Alibegov said.

Bulgarian media reports this past weekend said that restaurants had scrambled to get ready to re-open, with some suppliers agreeing to defer payments due by cash-strapped restaurants.

(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)

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